In The Irrational Season, Madeleine L'Engle has a chapter titled The Blue Balloon. I adore Madeleine's words in general, but this selection was particularly precious. The illustration from which the title comes is a story of loss - her daughter's blue balloon on a lovely day - and of comfort - We wiped the eyes, blew the little nose, consoled the tears, did not, of course, offer a new balloon, instead were silly, waggled our ears, turned sobs to laughter, accepted loss and hurried home for dinner.
Barely nine pages long, this small chapter is packed full of encouragement. Madeleine touches on the beauty of paradox, the truth of myth, the risk of love, the joy of simplicity, the healing of reconciliation, the mystery of communion, and the freedom of letting go.
A recurring theme here lately.
Madeleine recounts the bittersweet path of a mother watching her child grow:
Love, and let go. Love, and let go. It's always pain, this letting go, and yet it leads to joy, and a kind of lightness which is almost physical.
Pride is heavy.
It is a fatness of spirit,
an overindulgence of self.
This gluttony is earthbound,
cannot be lifted up.
Help me to fast,
to lose this weight.
Otherwise, O Light one,
how can I rejoice in your
At the end of The Blue Balloon chapter, she shares:
The most difficult thing to let go is my self, that self which, coddled and cozened, becomes smaller as it becomes heavier. I don't understand how and why I come to be only as I lose myself, but I know from long experience that it so.